German lobby backs Irish anti-smoking plan

German health campaigners have written to Enda Kenny backing plans for plain packaging for tobacco and dismissing pressure from German politicians to scrap the anti-smoking proposals.

German lobby backs Irish anti-smoking plan

The German Smokefree Alliance says it hopes Ireland will set an example for other European countries with plans to outlaw branding on cigarette packets and tobacco products.

The letter of support to Mr Kenny comes after German politicians and businesses previously claimed the plans would boost cigarette smuggling, reduce taxes and hurt the economy.

Half of the 27 MEPs who signed a letter to Mr Kenny asking him to scrap the plans were German, as reported by the Irish Examiner.

However, an umbrella group of health agencies in Germany urged Mr Kenny to stick with the plan.

The German Smokefree Alliance said it “strongly supports” the Government proposals. The alliance represents 11 charities.

Alliance chairman Uwe Prumel-Philippsen said: “We want to point out that the 13 German MEPs [Christian Democrats] who act together with other conservative MEPs against ‘plain packaging’ are nor representative of the 99 German MEPs. They are also a minority within the German Christian Democrats in the European Parliament.”

Debate on legislation for tobacco plain packaging will resume when the Dáil returns next month. The European Commission has until December to review the plans and submissions.

The Government expects a legal challenge from tobacco companies amid claims that the ban will infringe on intellectual property rights and the freedom to do business. Complaints have also been lodged with the World Trade Organisation by tobacco producing countries.

The German Smokefree Alliance told Mr Kenny that two Berlin-based business groups which had also written to him had failed in the past to thwart other anti-smoking measures.

Mr Prumel-Philippsen said: “The German health organisations and NGOs organised in the GSA, however, fully support efforts to introduce standardised packaging in and outside Europe. We hope very much that Ireland will set a good example, which will also be of benefit for Germany and other European countries.”

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